IRB confirm Sevens appointments
September 10, 2008

The International Rugby Board has confirmed the selection of match officials for the eight tournaments that comprise the record-breaking IRB Sevens World Series, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this season.

The Series, which kicks off in Dubai on November 28-29, has played a major part in the development of up and coming international referees over the past decade and 14 Unions are represented within a 22-strong referee panel for the 2008/09 season.

"The IRB Sevens World Series is a pivotal platform for the ongoing development of aspiring international match officials. Not only is it an arena where these individuals can cut their teeth on the big stage, but it also allows for considerable Game development support in terms of skills, technique and fitness. In conjunction with the IRB Age Grade tournaments, the IRB Sevens World Series provides an important finishing school role," said IRB Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien.

"The Series has a proven record of unearthing future Test standard match officials and all 12 of the referees selected for Rugby World Cup 2007 had refereed at an IRB Sevens World Series tournament, while the majority of the officials on the circuit today have graduated through the Series. Last year James Bolabiu (Fiji) refereed the Hong Kong Sevens final and has since progressed to take charge of his first Test, while Ireland's Peter Fitzgibbon, a Series regular, will referee his first Test matches in November. This year's panel will be looking to follow in their footsteps," added O'Brien.

From the pool of 22 referees a panel of eight has been selected for each Series tournament with locally-based assistant referees selected by the Host Union providing support to the panel. Former New Zealand Referee Manager Keith Lawrence will manage the referees at all eight Series tournaments.

"Keith's experience will be invaluable," said O'Brien. "Having a dedicated Sevens referee manager present at all eight tournaments will promote consistency, and ensure that a process is in place to assess performances, maintain feedback and manage the development of these up and coming match officials."

The Series kicks off in Dubai with Taizo Hirabayashi (Japan), David Keane (Ireland), Simon McDowell (Ireland), Neil Paterson (Scotland), James Bolabiu (Fiji), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France), Carlo Damasco (Italy) and Scott Herbert (Arabian Gulf) taking charge of the matches.

The selection of the panel of referees for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai on March 5-7, the first RWC Sevens to feature a women's tournament running alongside the men's competition, will be announced shortly.

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